For eBay, Is It Skype -- or Jajah?

Yesterday, eBay not only announced a major write-off involving Skype, but it also struck a deal with Skype's rival Jajah. eBay users are now allowed to embed Jajah buttons, allowing buyers to contact sellers, into its auction listings. To me, this deal indicates that eBay is no longer committed to Skype.

Yesterday, eBay recorded a huge, $1.4 billion impairment charge related to its Web-calling subsidiary, Skype, to indicate that that business is no longer worth anywhere near $2.6 billion the auction giant paid for it back in 2005. While Skype is profitable, it’s clear that eBay hasn’t been able to turn Skype into the money-making machine it hoped for.

One other announcement caught my eye, and it makes me wonder if eBay remains committed to Skype: Yesterday, eBay began allowing sellers to embed Jajah buttons into its site (check out this page for an example). By pressing this button on the Web page, buyers can call sellers directly from their PCs.

Yes, Jajah is a direct competitor of Skype’s; it also happens to brag some of the same early investors. And it offers several functionalities which eBay hasn’t encouraged Skype to develop: For instance, buyers don’t have to register with Jajah to call sellers. Skype requires registration and, typically, a software download.

To my mind, this deal indicates that eBay is no longer committed to Skype, though eBay claims otherwise. I wouldn’t be surprised if Skype finds itself on the auction block before long.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.